Gone are the days when earning a paycheck required leaving the house. Now, tens of millions of Americans work from home, and more are leaving the office by the day. But while remote work is undoubtedly convenient, and for many people, more fulfilling, it presents unique challenges. And those challenges are often related to workers’ physical and mental health.
More time spent sitting, cupboards stocked with enticing snacks, and reduced social stimulation can easily sabotage the best-laid healthy intentions. Lack of structure and unergonomic work positions can also wreak havoc on a once-healthy mind and body.
If you’re one of America’s millions of remote workers, you may have experienced some work-related health challenges of your own. But there’s good news: Virtual work needn’t sabotage your well-being. Here are four simple ways to stay healthy while working from home.
1. Make Time to Check-in With Your Healthcare Provider
Chatting with a healthcare provider regularly is perhaps the best way to stay healthy while working from home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean making a lengthy trip to your doctor’s office to check in on your well-being. Instead, you can schedule visits with an online doctor, who can mirror the care you’d receive at your primary physician’s office.
Whether you need a routine check-up or treatment for an acute health concern, an online doctor can care for you. If you live with a chronic health condition, virtual healthcare can allow you to manage it remotely. You can get prescriptions, sexual health advice, wellness and lifestyle advice, and even 24/7 urgent care online.
If you find yourself dealing with remote-work-related mental health issues like depression, loneliness, or anxiety, you can get help online. Telemedicine can connect you with a licensed therapist who can help you cope with these issues in a healthy way.
Through telehealth, you can manage many common physical and mental health issues as you would at an in-person doctor appointment. But, unlike in-office visits, virtual care is far more accessible and convenient. What’s more, online doctor visits tend to be more economical than in-person care. Regardless of your insurance status, telemedicine can help you get the advice and medication you need at an affordable price.
2. Work in a Dedicated, Ergonomic Space
Although working from the comfort of your couch or bed might feel liberating, it isn’t great for your health. Unergonomic working positions put undue stress on your body and can contribute to neck and back pain, muscle strain, and injuries.
Regularly working in places traditionally designated for non-work activities can negatively affect your mental health, too. Working from your bed or couch can contribute to sleep problems, issues with work-life boundaries, and productivity problems. Ultimately, working in these areas can lead to unnecessary stress that negatively affects your overall well-being.
That’s why setting up a dedicated, ergonomic workspace is so important. Even if it’s only a small desk in a corner, that space should be reserved for work and work only. Use a good chair that’s comfortable and allows you to stay properly aligned throughout the day. Even better, invest in a standing desk, which can help you get more movement throughout your day.
3. Stick to a Schedule
If your work-from-home job has flexible hours, you may be tempted to sleep in and work at odd times. But while your lack of commute and work schedule may sound like a dream come true, that flexibility can be difficult to manage.
Lacking structure during your work days can easily blur the boundaries between your professional and home life. Ultimately, those fuzzy boundaries may tip your work-life balance unfavorably, leaving you consumed by work and stressed out.
Excessive work flexibility can also reduce your ability to focus and decrease your productivity, which only compounds job-related stress. That’s why creating a work schedule is so important. Sticking to that schedule is even more crucial.
If you had a commute, replace that drive time with another activity that isn’t sleeping. Schedule brief breaks throughout the day to allow your mind to rest and recharge. Organize tomorrow’s work tasks by order of importance the night before. That way, you’ll be ready to jump into your workday from the get-go. Creating and adhering to a work structure can help you do your best work while maintaining good mental health.
- Make Time to Move and Workout
Working from home often means sitting for extended periods. And unfortunately, according to researchers, sitting all day is terrible for your health. Even if you exercise regularly, too much sitting can still contribute to a host of health problems. But there’s a simple way to avoid those potential health issues: Get up and move around — often.
Throughout your workday, try your best to get up once per hour, walk around, and stretch for a bit. Try to get outside if you can. Be sure to schedule time for exercise, too. Do your best to get two to three hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you only have time to walk around the block briskly, that’s better than nothing at all.
Exercise not only helps your brain produce chemicals that make you happy but can also help you be more productive. And when you’re a happy, productive worker, chances are you’ll be a happier, healthier human all around.
Working from home can certainly have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. But that doesn’t mean a downturn in your well-being is inevitable. Taking time for self-care, whether that involves seeing an online doctor or improving your work-life balance, can make a dramatic difference in your health.